Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Swordbearer, the First Shoots!

(photo by Melissa Mohr)

This past weekend, the Swordbearer project kicked off at The Castle Post, a large castle located in Versailles, KY, just on the outskirts of Lexington.

It is a spectacular place, with crenellated walls, towers, a big keep, and a beautiful landscape. As Swordbearer is medieval fantasy, you could not ask for a better place to kick off the film shoot.

(photo by Melissa Mohr)

We only had a short window of time to work with due to our location agreement, so the crew started arriving around 6 am, and we were under way with shooting a little after 8. The scene that we shot involves the arrival of Andalarn Thran back to Thran Keep, the family stead that he is reclaiming for the Thran family after centuries of exile.

An honor guard, including several Telmet (like dwarves) generals, are on hand to welcome him as he comes up with his wife, Kalene, the sea captain Hothorn, Baliak (one of the Kel, very elven-like folk), and four of their children that survived a sea wreck.

As independent film shoots tend to be, the earliest portion of the day involved everyone settling into their tasks, from costuming, to props, to the camera department, etc.

Clouds threatened rain, but once we got underway with shooting, we really moved smoothly. Of course, the threat of rain spurred everyone to stay on track, which didn't hurt!

I am really excited about the cast in this film. I have worked with several of them before, such as Vince Bingham, who is playing the part of Hothorn, and there are many new faces, such as John Wells, who plays Baliak, and Margaret Whitney, who plays the Lady Kalene (John and Margaret are pictured, photos taken by Melissa Mohr). The cast did an excellent job, from the House Guards like Dale Miller, to the Telmet generals like TJ Moreschi and William S. Tolliver, to the Thran family, which included Ally Wells. Cherokee Hall, who played Loncaer, turned in an excellent performance, delivering dialogue in the manner I was wanting, as did Matthew Perry, who is playing Andalarn Thran.

Major kudos to the costume department. Abby Cook, who recently stepped in to head up the department, was assited by Lori Baker and Robin Blankenship. They worked fast and efficiently to garb about twenty in a very short amount of time. Similarly, Billy Boyd and Justin Powell (who has been helping in just about all departments) managed to coordinate weapons and props very well, including some brand new pieces made by John Billy Foley. Makeup and Hair went well, thanks to Kinnari Shah and Sven Granlund (wearing one of his ten thousand hats).

Grips/PA's were on top of everything, from Jordan Mynk, to Josh Parsons, and Andrew Blankenship. Aaron Champion, our DP and the guy on the A camera, and Sven Granlund, who ran camera B AND managed to oversee audio, captured some fantastic images.

On my end, I was very happy with my trusty, awesome First AD Nathan Day, and our new assistant producer Cara Worick. Both really helped to keep things organized and flowing.

All of this flowed into day 2, which took place in the first half at Ft. Boonesborough, in a blockhouse in the fort that we used as a medieval tavern/waystation. We headed down to Boonesborough beach for the shooting of 2 more scenes in the afternoon.

This shoot was special, as we had the author of the novel on whom Swordbearer is adapted from. H. David Blalock, author of Ascendant, was on hand personally, along with his wife, Maria, and daughter Herika Raymer (who is a published author as well). David was placed in the tavern as one of the ale-drinkers, while Herika was one of the boisterous bar maids. I think David had a real blast seeing his own characters in flesh and blood, and I was highly relieved to discover that he was happy with the cast.

(David Blalock, Tom Williams, and the Kel, photo by Melissa Mohr)

The tavern scene involved some nice jib and dolly shots, and we finished largely on schedule. The first beach scene went very well, and I included some shots allowing for some ad-libbing on the part of Matthew and Margaret, to create a little extension to the scene focusing on their relationship as husband and wife. Needless to say, the two of them blew the roof off with their performance. I couldn't help but give a fist pump as Margaret finished up one of the cuts, as the performance and shot were simply fantastic. (photo by Melissa Mohr, features Ronica Jones, who is in our makeup and hair dept., working with Claude Miles, one of the Kel band)

We had to wait until nightfall to get the final shots, involving a party of 4 Kel, including Baliak, looking out to sea to a small ship struggling on the horizon in a storm. We got the first two of the three shots knocked out, and then, right on the verge of rolling camera for the last shot, the lights tripped the circuit breaker. The park security ended up not having keys to where the breaker box was. I asked all the cast and crew their thoughts on calling it a night, and doing a short shoot on a later date, or forging ahead with setting up at a shelter nearby that had power, which would add a couple hours onto the already full day shoot.

The cast and crew were unanimously determined to finish. Cara, Jordan, Aaron, Sven, Matthew, myself, Nathan, and the cast members made our way over to the shelter, set up, got the last shots, and reached the end of the night.

I can't wait until we get to show the first footage from this shoot. I have seen many clips, and the project is looking very, very nice.

This week we are focused on the big fight rehearsal between Al Snow, who is playing Hennock, one of the two champions that meet at the end of the film, and Benjamin Wood, who is playing Tchek, the other opponent. Fight Coordinator is Allan Gilbreath, out of Memphis TN, who has a tremendous fighting and weapons background, including expertise in medieval weapons and fighting styles.

Some of the production team will be recording portions of the rehearsals to plan for some subtle CGI effects that will be added.

As for myself, I will be returning to ConText this weekend, a great literary convention in Columbus Ohio. I am set to do a couple of panels, and exhibit in the dealer room, and it will be great to catch up with many of my author friends, such as Michael West, Maurice Broaddus, Steven Shrewsbury, and Jason Sizemore, the Apex head honcho.

Obviously, things are insanely busy, but I really don't mind it when I'm doing what I like.

Oh...did I mention that book 2 of the Fires in Eden series is on the home stretch now! :) I think the readers are going to be very, very pleased with how this one turns out. Karen Leet, my editor on this book, has expressed that she is very happy with it!


Madeleine Bouquet said...

So much excitement!

I've really been enjoying all of the Swordbearer updates you've been posting on Facebook. It's so much fun to see it all come together!

Nathan and I have read Crown of Vengeance, and we both really enjoyed it! We can't wait for the next book in the series!

Hope you're doing well.:)


sgzimmer said...

thanks so much for the feedback, Laura! Sorry about the slow reply here...I'm getting back to optimal speed after what has been a bit of a trying time as my last couple of posts indicates.

very pleased that you read Crown of Vengeance. Just wait til you see what's in book two!